Re: information creation and promissory materialism (was
Thu, 14 Oct 1999 09:59:45 EDT


> This is hardly a problem, and it is certainly not an "intractable" one.
>It is predicted (more or less uniquely) on the basis of the very principle
>of evolution that organisms will increase in complexity to fill every
>available niche, as long as each increase in complexity also brings with it a
>survival advantage for the genes of the organism. Indeed, that's pretty much
>*point* of evolutionary theory.>>


> Someone needs to explain this to bacteria. They are the predominate
> life form on earth and have been evolving for the longest period of time.
> Yet there is no clear trend that bacteria have increased their complexity
> to fill every available niche.


>Instead of explaining it to the bacteria (who already understand it), I'll
>explain it to *you.*

Why thanks. Being as stupid as I am, I sure can use this help.

>I did not say that *every* organism will increase its complexity.

I see. So the "*point* of evolutionary theory" does not apply to
all organisms. Bacteria just happen to be the most ubiquitous,
most successful, and most ancient form of life. Why ignore them
to make some "*point*" about evolution?

>I said that "organisms" will increase their complexity, organisms
>in general.

Why would a generic claim ignore the most common form of
life? And what about parasites?

>Some niches are not suited to complexity beyond a certain level,
>given the materials available and the paths to complexity available.

>Where do you think *we* came from, if not bacteria or bacteria-like
>organisms. We are one of the results of that bacterial increase in
>complexity. No one said that an organism would remain the *same* organism
>and yet *still* increase in complexity.

E. coli is not the *same* bacterium that lived over 3 billion years ago.
Bacteria have been evolving right along side the lineage that ultimately
gave rise to us.

>Part of the increase in complexity involves an increase in size and other

Not seen much among the bacterial domain that has evolved to this

>Perhaps you had not noticed that the fewer parts a thing has, the more
>limited it is in complexity, other things being equal.

Oh, I've noticed.

>I said that organisms would fill every available niche. I did not say that
>organisms would fill every available niche and then *abandon* them in favor
>of complexity. Bacteria live in niches that are suited to them, so there is
>not much pressure to increase complexity, and some to keep it down, because
>if they increase their complexity, they will have to increase their size (in
>many cases), and the increase in size is too costly.

Except that one lineage escaped this constraint. Now why was that?
What was so special about this niche that only one species could
spawn eukaryotic multicellularity?

>I was only being partly facetious when I said that the bacteria already
>understand this. They don't, of course, actually understand it. But they
>"know in their genes" not to get bigger and more complex.

They do? According to you, "We are one of the results of that bacterial
increase in complexity." Apparently, one lineage didn't "know in their
genes not to get bigger and more complex." Why was that? And if
one lineage could be so misinformed, why not two, three, four, five
over a span of 3.8 billion years?

>But life in general keeps pushing into every available niche, including the
>ones suited only for simplicity.

Okay, so define the niche that allowed bacteria to evolve into far
more complex organisms - you know, the one niche no other
bacteria have been able to find over 3.8 billion years of a changing

>Finally, I note that in the very paragraph of mine that you quote above, I
>include the words:

> as long as each increase in complexity also brings
> with it a survival advantage for the genes of the organism.

>Could it be, Mike, that increasing in complexity does *not* bring a survival
>advantage to the genes of the bacteria? Hmm?

Hmm. According to you, "We are one of the results of that bacterial
increase in complexity." Apparently, there is a way. And if it
can happen once·..

>Did you perhaps think that I meant that all organisms would increase in
>complexity *regardless* of the survival value of doing so?


>Did you think that *this* is what I meant when I said, "Indeed, that's
>much the *point* of evolutionary theory"?

I thought you meant exactly what you claimed in this message: "I said that
"organisms" will increase their complexity, organisms in general." I don't
know how one can discuss organisms in general by excluding bacteria
(which only happen to be the most ubiquitous and ancient of life forms).

>If so, I think you may have a case of the dreaded "Stephen Jones disease"
>(the main symptom of which is an inability or unwillingness to actually
>understand what one reads while believing firmly that one *does* understand